32-year-old NBA journeyman Darren Collison is considering a return to the NBA, with February as his target return month. Instead of returning to one of the two Los Angeles-based franchises, should the point guard instead consider the Boston Celtics as his new employer?
Look, for most any other job in the world I wouldn’t try to convince you to ditch the beautiful beaches of Los Angeles for brutal cold and snow for half of the year. But if your job title is professional basketball player, in my opinion, there isn’t a better situation to join–especially as a veteran–than the current iteration of the Boston Celtics.
Despite the presence of two established veterans in Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward, there isn’t an all-encompassing pressure for the C’s to win the NBA Championship like there is in the city of angels.
Let’s take a look at the two basketball franchises that reside in LA’s Staples Center that veteran point guard Darren Collison is considering for an NBA return. On one end, you have the Los Angeles Lakers. With LeBron James in tow, the expectations are a title. With Anthony Davis by his side, those expectations are only amplified.
We all know how it goes when it comes to being a teammate with the “king”. He gets the credit, you get the blame. Last year’s Lakers core (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart) were all casualties of James’ take-no-prisoners approach to choosing his teammates. Kyrie Irving famously wanted out of the “Robin” role in Cleveland even after winning a championship alongside him.
So, in short, the Lakers might not be the most fun place to be…especially if you are a ball-handler alongside the domineering James. But what about the Clippers?
The co-tenants at 1111 S Figueroa St are an overnight contender after pulling off a free agency coup that saw Kawhi Leonard sign on the dotted line following a blockbuster Paul George trade that saw the franchise give up a staggering five first round draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Opportunities in the back-court are a tad more sparse with Pat Beverly and Lou Williams serving as the primary floor generals. Jerome Robinson also needs minutes, and recently coach Doc Rivers has started Landry Shamet at the 1-spot. That said, Collison has familiarity with Rivers and the Clippers when he partook in the infamously unhealthy 2013-14 Lob City season that Jared Dudley recently quoted as calling “toxic”.
Those are the two reported options for Collison’s very short-lived retirement. But should they be? Should the UCLA product and California native consider suiting up for the Boston Celtics instead this February?
From a distance, the fit looks enticing. The Boston Celtics have a strength on the wing, but their point guard depth is a work in progress. Obviously, Kemba Walker is the team’s top option overall and deserves the lion-share of the minutes at the lead-guard spot. Marcus Smart is more than capable of soaking up point guard minutes as well. He may be best served preserving his energy on the defensive side of the ball, though–particularly in the playoffs.
Behind Walker on the depth chart is three different options that really aren’t similar stylistically. Brad Wanamaker is the regular second unit ball-handler at current. He has an assist:turnover ratio of almost 3:1 and has doubled his scoring output in increased minutes. Wanamaker is a solid, if unspectacular, option behind Walker.
Behind him is a pair of rookies drafted in the second round of last year’s draft. Carsen Edwards, the 33rd pick in 2019, has struggled to adjust to the pro game after a solid four-year career at Purdue. His shooting numbers are in the low-thirties. He was even recently relegated to the Maine Red Claws of the G-League.
Tremont Waters, the 51st pick out of LSU, has shown more flashes of being a legitimate point guard at the pro level. His exposure on the Boston Celtics has been limited, but he has been tearing up the G-League. Still, he shouldn’t be expected to contribute meaningful minutes in playoff games just yet.
Which leaves the question of adding Collison one that boils down to this: would you rather have him or Wanamaker leading the team in case of emergency?
Collison is two years older than Wanamaker but has nine more years of NBA experience. Last year and in 2011, Collison was playing starter minutes for the Indiana Pacers. His retirement was a shocker, but now that he is set to return, the Celtics should be on his radar.
If that comes at the expense of Javonte Green‘s or Vincent Poirier‘s roster spot, so be it. If the California-based talent decides that he’d rather be donning green and white than staying home, the Boston Celtics should be willing to embrace a point guard that still has plenty to give to the game and can contribute to winning in the short-term as the long-term answers at point guard behind Walker are further established.